I was born to write this column.
One of the NBA's best players -- and more importantly one of this city's best sports and cultural icons -- was traded to Denver on Tuesday along with Ivan McFarlin for point guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and a pair of first-round draft picks.
From a pure basketball perspective, Iverson clots the stream of blood that came from the NBA's disciplinary action against Denver star Carmelo Anthony. When he returns, the duo will form a lethal combination on the perimeter, and the Nuggets will be a pesky squad in the stacked Western Conference.
Sixers general manager Billy King received several key ingredients in return. Miller is a pure point guard, and a veteran ball handler is a vital asset for a team rebuilding around a young core. Smith is nothing more than an expiring contract, off the books at year's end to be replaced by younger and cheaper. The two draft picks will bolster a squad, especially with the talent-heavy crop coming out of school.
But, at least within this space, the basketball perspective ends there.
The rest of the rant isn't about practice or a game. It's about Iverson's "other" affect on the city, an African American with the clothing of a street thug and the outspoken nature of a road scholar.
Iverson didn't convey his thoughts with alliteration and run-on metaphors. His points were simple, blunt, POWERFUL. He defined a race in a city with every tattoo, some with generational ties and others with messages of struggle and success.
Unlike those with the same roots, the street wasn't his family. His FAMILY was his FAMILY.
Iverson is older than most of his friends. Mostly because many succumbed to the dangers associated with poverty, crime, and life spent around coke instead of on the couch.
A.I. -- the one bouncing his daughter off his knee? Or A.I. -- the mugshot following arrests for marijuana and gun possessions?
Truth be told, he's both. A hoop artist with a sweet 401(k) plan on the court, a confetti artist with a tough edge and short fuse off it.
"I worry about him all the time," former Sixers president Pat Croce once said. "All the time, when he's not in our sanctum or where I can see him."
A.I., still a little kid wearing big shoes.
What made Iverson great on the court -- a hidden rage that fueled this small guy against the world mentality and fearless approach to the basket -- also made him dangerous off it.
Iverson never changed during his 11 years in Philadelphia. He was the same brash, negligent, truthful to the soul player that left Georgetown.
Yet, during his tenure as a Sixer, he changed us. We came to terms with HIS reality, educated ourselves on the life of the impoverished, and transformed our racial stereotypes into a deep understanding of THE man.
"Maybe I didn't give it enough thought or time to understand what this kid's about," ex-Sixers head coach Larry Brown once said.
Maybe we all didn't, Larry. But when we did take the time, we came to understand Iverson's heart was in the right place.
It was about winning. We may not completely comprehend a path never traveled, but we came to embrace the same finish line.
We crossed it together in relative success for 11 years. For that, we should be thankful.